New program certifies agricultural service providers to offer organic transition assistance through Rodale Institute.
Building on the success of its Organic Consulting Service launched in 2019, the nonprofit Rodale Institute has launched the Rodale Institute Certified Advisor program, a new accreditation that builds a network of local, trusted agricultural service providers backed by Rodale Institute’s expertise.
Under the management of Rodale Institute’s Organic Consulting team, Rodale Institute Certified Advisors (RICA) will meet with current and prospective organic farmers to utilize local knowledge, community, and trust to help increase organic acreage across the country. These advisors will be backed by nearly 75 years of research and farmer training from Rodale Institute, as well as the world-renowned reputation of the global leader in regenerative organic agriculture.
Learn more about the program in this short video:
“The Rodale Institute Certified Advisor program is a perfect opportunity for existing or retired farmers to get involved with helping advance organic agriculture on the ground,” said Sam Malriat, Director of Rodale Institute’s Organic Consulting Service. “Not only does this program allow Rodale Institute to expand our services to more farmers across the country, but it also helps foster trust by building on the knowledge that many farmers may already have of Rodale Institute as an institution.”
The first pilot cohort of Rodale Institute Certified Advisors will begin the process in late 2021. To become certified, participants must submit an application to Rodale Institute that includes their experience and expertise. Prospective Advisors must then complete a training course through Rodale Institute’s Virtual Campus and complete an exam.
Once approved, Certified Advisors will be matched with Rodale Institute Organic Consulting Service clients based on geographical region and needs.
Melissa Mattee Murphy, a 2021 pilot cohort participant, currently serves as an Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Agent in Fulton County, Georgia.
“I developed a passion for organic agriculture by working with farmers in Appalachia,” said Murphy. “I was fascinated by how these farmers were able to sustainably integrate their land with the fragile mountain ecosystems around them, working with the land instead of forcing it into submission. Farming organically just makes the most sense for most of my farmers, so I look for any opportunity to learn about it and share my knowledge with my community.”
Rodale Institute’s Organic Consulting Service was launched in 2019 through support from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Designed as a one-on-one mentorship model, Rodale Institute consultants meet with farmers interested in transitioning some or all of their land to organic or regenerative organic management to create an individualized plan. This Service has expanded to include more than 10 consultants in 6 states, with over 300 farmer clients in under two years of operation.
“We’ve been so excited about the response that we’ve received to our Consulting Service, and we’re excited to expand access to transitioning resources through the RICA program,” said Emily Gantz, Rodale Institute Organic Consulting Service Program Manager. “As our client base grew, we realized that we were missing regional knowledge and a diversity of backgrounds that really allows us to build one-on-one support for farmers. By empowering Certified Advisors to bring the research of Rodale Institute to their communities, we are widening the impact of this work.”
Rodale Institute Certified Advisors will be qualified to advise farmers on topics such as certification assistance, crop rotation planning, recordkeeping, market discovery, soil analysis, and much more.
Rodale Institute’s Certified Advisor exam will be offered through the Rodale Institute Virtual Campus, which also offers a variety of on-demand courses including “Transition to Certified Organic” and “Being a Regenerative Consumer.”